Stop influencing Buhari negatively, southern leaders tell North

Call for release of Kanu, others

A meeting of Elders and Management Committee of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) has ended in Umuahia, Abia State capital, with a call on northern elders to desist from infusing the present administration with the “we versus them” mentality.

They noted that such mentality was responsible for the division and suspicion in the polity, urging the government to consciously ensure equitable distribution of appointments and projects.

These were the positions of the body contained in an 11-point communiqué issued at the end of its meeting at the Micheal Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia.

They equally called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately release of the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kalu and others, whom the leaders described as prisoners of conscience currently in detention.

The Assembly called on the Federal Government to negotiate with the Niger Delta agitators, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and the agitators for Biafra to find a peaceful resolution of their grievances, opposing the use of force.

The SNPA, however, declared the Assembly’s resolve to support the administration of President Buhari in his effort to move Nigeria forward, especially in his anti-corruption efforts, war on the insurgency and his effort to revive the country’s ailing economy.

In the communiqué signed by Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, who was the chairman of session; Chief Edwin K. Clark, CON, co-chair/leader of the South-South and Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, co-chair/leader of the South-West, who was represented by Senator Femi Okurounmu, the group frowned at the continued detention of agitators.

“The elders, leaders and management of SNPA deliberated on the continuous herdsmen’s attacks on Southern Nigeria, the controversial grazing bill before the National Assembly, the call for restructuring Nigeria, the activities of the NDA and the military presence in the Niger Delta Region. Other issues discussed included the economy and options for national economic cooperation and diversification by Southern states and the anti-corruption war of the President Buhari-led government,” the SNPA said.

The communiqué maintained that the “continued incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu and other prisoners of conscience after courts of competent jurisdictions have granted them judicial bails shows a gross disregard for due process, disrespect for the judiciary and abuse of their fundamental rights,” adding that the herdsmen attack in Southern Nigeria had become a recurring feature despite repeated calls to the Federal Government to deal with the issue decisively.

“The rampaging attacks, raping, wanton destructions of lives and properties of innocent Nigerians have continued unabated, particularly the recent killings in Enugu and Benue states, which share borders with Cross River State does not make for peaceful co-existence and stability  of the country.”

The Southern leaders advised Buhari to respect the rule of law and ruling of courts of competent jurisdiction by ensuring the immediate release of Kalu and all other prisoners of conscience, which various courts have granted bail and who have subsequently met their bail conditions.

“The principle of separation of power must be applied to advance our democracy and strict adherence to acceptable dignified tenets of investigation, arrest and prosecution be applied,” the communique said.

“That the extant and lopsided appointments into Federal positions and offices, which are, indeed, skewed against the people of Southern Nigeria, especially the South-East and South-South, is unacceptable, unconstitutional and is capable of eroding the confidence of the people of the Southern Nigeria on the ability of this government to protect their interest.

The Assembly further viewed with concern the rising incident of kidnapping, armed robbery and other criminal activities in parts of Nigeria, especially in the South and the need for the security agencies and the leaders of thoughts to join hands in tackling them, adding that the rapid collapse in the

nation’s infrastructure especially the supply of power, the deplorable state of federal roads in Southern Nigeria and their negative impact on the economy was worrisome.

According to the Assembly, which decried the unprecedented loss in the value of the Naira against other

major foreign currencies, which has resulted in the inability of the business and manufacturing sectors to source enough foreign exchange for their operations, maintained that this has affected the productive capacity of the real sector, leading to increased unemployment.

Prominent among those in attendance were former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara, Dr

Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, Senator Kofo Bucknor-Akerele,  Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Anthony Adefuyi, Iyom Josepine Anenih, General Tony Etukudoh, Professor Gerorge Obiozor, Professor Ihechukwu Madubuike, Senator Adelekan, Dr Gregory Ibe, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, Rt. Honourable Tunde Akogun, Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa, Senator Roland Owie, Col. Pam Oga, Chief Simon Nsobundu Okeke and other elders and leaders from the three zones of Southern Nigeria.